The Bab and the Shi`i Du`á Saḥar, Dawn Prayer of Muhammad al-Baqir

 

Stephen Lambden

In progress and revision

Among the most important occurrences of the word bahá' in Shí`í Islámic literatures is in an Arabic invocatory prayer attributed to Imám Muhammad al-Báqir (677-732 CE) the fifth of the Twelver Shí`í Imáms.  The eighth Shí`í Imám, Riḍá' (d. 818 CE.), who transmitted this prayer, reckoned that it contained the "Greatest Name" of God (al-ism al-a`zam).  It is a prayer to be recited at dawn during Ramadan (Du`á  Saḥar), the Muslim month of fasting. The word bahá or a derivative of the same root is contained some five times within it's opening words;

 The opening lines of the Dawn Prayer of Muhammad al-Baqir.

O my God! I beseech Thee by Thy Bahā' (Splendor)

at its most splendid (abhā') for all Thy Splendor (bahā') is truly resplendent (bahiyy). I, verily, O my God! beseech Thee by the fullness of Thy Splendor (bahā').

[or alternative Lambden trans]

"O my God! I beseech Thee by thy Bahá'  in its supreme splendour (abhá') for all Thy bahá' is truly splendid (bahíyy). I, verily, O my God, beseech Thee by the fullness of Thy bahá!".

For the full translation (Beta version) refer below :

 

The Shi`i Du`á  Saḥar, Dawn Prayer and the Du`a  yawm al-Mubahala (Supplication for the Dat of Mutual Execration) in the writings of the Bab.

The Du`a al-Sahar of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and the Du`a  yawm al-Mubahala (Supplication for the Dat of Mutual Execration) are quite often reflected, refashined or creatively re-revealed in the writings of the Bab.  Various of his numerous Aravic and Persian writings  contain the word bahá' and its derivatives followed by all or a select number of the other 19 or more Divine Attributes utilized in the Du`a al-Sahar and the Du`a al-Mubahala. This is obviious in the Badi` or New Bábí-Bahá'í calendar of the Báb in which the first month is named baha' and the others generally follow thwe patgtern of the Du`a al-baha' or the Du`a al-Mubahala.

The new calandar of the Bab was apparently first set forth in  his Kitáb al-asmá' ("Book of Names" c.1849). This calandar was twenty or more years later ratified by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ("Most Holy Book" c. 1873).

The scheme or pattern of name or attributes within  the  Shi`i Du`á  Saḥar, Dawn Prayer or Du`a al-Baha'  directly or indirectly, lies behind a good many Bábí-Bahá'í scriptural uses of bahá' . This influence is frequent, for example, in the Báb's Kitáb-i-panj sha'n ("The Book of the Five Grades"). The opening of the Du`a al-sabah is quoted in the (Persian) Dalá'il-i-Sab`a ("The Seven Proofs" c. 1848/9?) of the Bab where its first five lines are regarded as an allusion to the Prophet Muammad and the other "people of the cloak" (ahl al-kisá' see Qur'án 33:32; namely,`Alī, Fáṭima, Ḥasan and Ḥusayn; see pp. 58-9).

The following passage from the Báb's writings is closely related to the above quoted Dawn Prayer  and to the Bábí messiah Man yuzhiruhu'lláh  ("Him Whom God shall make manifest" = Bahá'u'lláh);

"The glory of Him Whom God shall manifest is immeasurably above every other glory, and His majesty is far above every other majesty. His beauty excelleth every other embodiment of beauty, and His grandeur immensely exceedeth every other manifestation of grandeur. Every light paleth before the radiance of His light, and every other exponent of mercy falleth short before the tokens of His mercy. Every other perfection is as naught in face of His consummate perfection, and every other display of might is as nothing before His absolute might. His names are superior to all other names. His good‑pleasure taketh precedence over any other expression of good‑pleasure. His pre‑eminent exaltation is far above the reach of every other symbol of exaltation. The splendour of His appearance far surpasseth that of any other appearance. His divine concealment is far more profound than any other conceal ment. His loftiness is immeasurably above every other loftiness. His gracious favour is unequalled by any other evidence of favour. His power transcendeth every power. His sovereignty is invincible in the face of every other sovereignty. His celestial dominion is exalted far above every other dominion. His knowledge pervadeth all created things, and His consummate power extendeth over all beings." (SWB: I57 tr. text 110-111).